I remember praying for patience when I was 15 years old. I had a short-temper, got easily frustrated (particularly with my mother, as most 15 year old girls tend to do), and just was generally...impatient! I could see it in myself, and I wanted to change it, but didn't know how to do that on my own. So I prayed that God would help me to be more patient.
Then I got a phonecall. I was offered a babysitting job for two kids. In retrospect, they really weren't bad. They were normal kids, and I didn't have much experience. But for a 15 year old with very little patience, it was a harrowing summer job to say the least. I remember fixing bagel bites in their kitchen for lunch one day, as they got further and further under my skin. And I closed my eyes in front of the microwave, and prayed yet again for God to just give me some patience. Then it hit me, all at once in that minute and a half...
God doesn't just hand over patience. God puts us in the situations we need to be in so that he can help us learn. Life is one giant learning experience. God delivered me to that job so that I *could* learn patience. Those two rambunctious children were the answer to my prayers. So with a shake of my head, and a "you got me on that one, God", I passed out the bagel bites and tried to change my attitude.
I've had similar experiences recently in my life. My wonderful, unbelievably patient, and always optimistic husband had an intervention of sorts with me regarding my negativity. I've always considered myself to be a realist, but truth of the matter is that I'm a cynic. I was jaded early on and I don't know where it came from. So, I prayed that God would make me a more optimistic person.
Then He delivered a new office manager to my workplace. I have never in my life met a more negative, miserable person in my life. I could literally write a book about her, but that's not the point. The point is, that I truly believe that this miserable wretch of a woman was brought to me so that I could see how *not* to act. Everything that came out of her negative mouth, was a slap in the face. It was a mirror of how I'd been living my life for who knows how long. So not only did I commit to changing, I decided that I would try to bring this oh-so-grumpy lady a little sunshine into her day. I don't know how well that's working. I think she's much grumpier than I am sunshiny, but it truly has helped me in my outlook!
The main lesson I've learned from observing this woman (and believe me, it's a big one, considering I'm one of the world's foremost complainers) is that there is no point in complaining about things over which you have no control, nor is there any point in complaining about things over which you do have control. If that's the case, it's your duty to make it right.
God has also put me in situations that have helped me to be less judgmental, more compassionate, you name it. But when you stop and think about it, God has an interesting way of answering prayers. Some call it "working in mysterious ways", but mostly I like to think God has a sense of humor.
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